Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why universal healthcare is important to me

I've spent a lot of bytes on healthcare over these past four years (as the four years worth of "The Coming Epidemic" make clear). Why is that important to me, you ask?

Well, simple: It's personal.

Look. I'm closer to 50 than to anything below, and basically I'm a pumpkin if I get laid off from my current job. Almost nobody in the technology industry wants to hire folks with grey hairs, and that leaves independent consulting as my way to make a living. And the problem with independent consulting is, well... you have to buy your own individual health insurance. Which is not available to someone with my pre-existing conditions. Meaning I would be yet another one of the uninsured, giving me a 50% greater chance of dying if I got a serious illness such as cancer, which, given my personal history of exposure to many toxic chemicals (hey, there's a *reason* the Louisiana swamp penguin is so rare, Louisiana is a chemical stew!), is far more likely than I like to think about.

I have no problem paying for healthcare, mind you. Even as an independent consultant I'd make a fair chunk of change. I know where all the skeletons are buried in the technology industry, especially when it comes to Linux (I was one of the original Linux geeks back in the day and have been working with Linux for almost fifteen years now -- thus the whole penguin bit), and when the kids run into trouble and can't figure out how to make sh*t happen, I'm the go-to guy who comes in and straightens everything out and gets a project going on the right track again. But I simply can't buy it on the open market because insurers only want people who are completely healthy with no pre-existing conditions. They simply refuse to sell me insurance.

The reason why the group market works is that the Federal Government makes the group market accept everybody, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Well, that and the tax write-off, but that's a different issue. The current health insurance reform bill in the House of Representatives, HR3200, is not a be-all and end-all of health care reform. But at least it would allow me to buy individual "group" insurance that covers pre-existing conditions via the Health Insurance Exchange without me being an employee of some other company, and if I did become sick and unemployable while sick at least it qualifies me for Medicaid (right now single males without children are disqualified from Medicaid). While I believe the real solution to our nation's health care crisis is Medicare For All, I don't think we're going to be able to go there directly without going through this must-issue/must-have scenario set up by HR3200. Our political system simply is too dysfunctional to make that big of a change in things, even HR3200 is probably stretching what our dysfunctional political system is capable of doing. But at the very least HR3200 solves my immediate issue -- the fact that I'm turning into a pumpkin as we speak -- and if it passes, means I won't have to go to Canada to make my later years acceptably healthy.

-- Badtux the Healthcare Penguin


  1. So if, as a nearly fifty year old male with a number of health issues, and unable to work due to those issues, I went and knocked some woman up, I could get medicare?

    I guess that makes as much sense as anything else in this country.

  2. You could get Medicaid (not Medicare), yes. But only if you knocked up a woman and her child actually was born and you are married to the woman and the woman's wages still leave you below the official poverty line (which is well below the real poverty line).

    Yeah, deranged, isn't it?

    - Badtux the not-so-deranged Penguin

  3. Penguin
    Welcome to my world. A decade older, single male, no longer have the job with health care (own my own biz - started just in time for the economy to take that rocket powered nose dive), pre-existing conditions out the whatever.
    I don't wish being in this position of only having bankrupting, expensive trauma care on many people but I do have a list. Mostly insurance execs and congress critters. I want proper health care for all. I was not sure that medicare for all would fit the bill like you wanted but it would be better than most of the stuff in congress now. I get the feeling that most in congress will vote for a good program once they get to make all kinds of noise against it and figure out which congress critters they are going to throw under the bus by voting against it. But then the next minute I think we're all screwed because Lord Ben Nelson, (D-corrupt), needs more money.

  4. Wow. Until I read what you wrote, I did not fully realise how lucky I am. We had health insurance through Mrs. Bukko's University of California job when we lived in S.F., and I could have got a plan (somewhat worse) through my job at the hospital there. So it was not a big issue.

    And now, I'm able to easily flit between socialist healthcare systems in Australia and Canada (did I mention we're immigrating there in October?) without a care.

    No snark, Tux. You're about the same age as I am, which gives me empathy with you. I get an easy ride because I wipe butts, while you have rarer skills and you're screwed. No justice there, mate.

  5. Me too Tux. No healthcare for years, self-employed single father of two teens, asthma, allergies, I almost die every winter. I have to bum medication off my neighbors. The local pot dealer has inhalers now for $20 ea. He knows... It is a travesty. Those inhalers are $300.00 at the drugstore. I work very hard, call my congress-critters but feel like I am pissing up a rope against the moneyed interests of the Medical Industrial Complex. I cannot remember a time when the blatant purchase of our democratic process has been so obvious.
    All I can do is rail against the machine at: www.salmonalley2009.blogspot.com. Sometimes it is even good.... I appreciate your plight and live it every day.


  6. "Look. I'm closer to 50 than to anything below, and basically I'm a pumpkin if I get laid off from my current job. Almost nobody in the technology industry wants to hire folks with grey hairs, and that leaves independent consulting as my way to make a living. And the problem with independent consulting is, well... you have to buy your own individual health insurance. Which is not available to someone with my pre-existing conditions. ..."

    That describes me perfectly... if you substitute "60" for "50" above. So much for the horse manure that America is the place to run your very own independent contracting business.

    Good luck, Badtux. It's going to take luck... hell, it's going to take a miracle... for us to be insured in today's America.

  7. well.... i'm already an uninsured and uninsurable geeky pumpkin and since with hr3200 i'm going to have to wait until 2013 or later to get insurance [and probably won't be able to afford to get sick even then], i'm just going to hold out for single payer.

  8. And why is universal healthcare the right solution to this problem? I understand that you have a pre-existing condition, and if you are in a position where you are unemployed and can't afford healthcare on your own (care, not insurance, an important distinction that you don't seem to understand, considering your constant misuse of the word insurance), then the government should help you out, as the government should help out victims of an earthquake, for example. But why do you make the jump that we need to put a government straight-jacket on the entire system in order to help out those who truly need the help?

  9. I'm not sure why you have the religious belief that universal healthcare is "a government strait-jacket". That is not true in France or Switzerland or Japan, why would it be true in the USA? In all those nations you get the care you want, when you want it, without any government involvement except to regulate the insurance companies that pay for the care to make sure they don't profit excessively or deny care where your doctor agrees care is necessary. HR3200 is fairly close to the Swiss system with the exception that it retains employer-paid insurance (the Swiss system has everybody in the individual market rather than mixed employer-individual market of HR3200), what makes HR3200 do things that the Swiss system patently does not do?

    - Badtux the Healthcare Penguin


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